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Zero-rating of Content and its Effect on the Quality of Service in the Internet


  • Manjesh K. Hanawal
  • Fehmina Malik
  • Yezekael Hayel


The ongoing net neutrality debate has generated a lot of heated discussions on whether or not monetary interactions should be regulated between content and access providers. Among the several topics discussed, `differential pricing' has recently received attention due to `zero-rating' platforms proposed by some service providers. In the differential pricing scheme, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can exempt data access charges for on content from certain CPs (zero-rated) while no exemption is on content from other CPs. This allows the possibility for Content Providers (CPs) to make `sponsorship' agreements to zero-rate their content and attract more user traffic. In this paper, we study the effect of differential pricing on various players in the Internet. We first consider a model with a monopolistic ISP and multiple CPs where users select CPs based on the quality of service (QoS) and data access charges. We show that in a differential pricing regime 1) a CP offering low QoS can make have higher surplus than a CP offering better QoS through sponsorships. 2) Overall QoS (mean delay) for end users can degrade under differential pricing schemes. In the oligopolistic market with multiple ISPs, users tend to select the ISP with lowest ISP resulting in same type of conclusions as in the monopolistic market. We then study how differential pricing effects the revenue of ISPs.

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  • Manjesh K. Hanawal & Fehmina Malik & Yezekael Hayel, 2017. "Zero-rating of Content and its Effect on the Quality of Service in the Internet," Papers 1709.09334,, revised Sep 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1709.09334

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